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What to do if Disneyland reaches capacity, how to deal when you’re there on the busiest days of the year.
It’s a rare thing, but it’s true—Disneyland can reach capacity and often the parking lots are the first indicator that things are more crowded than usual. Here’s all the details on Disneyland being “sold out” and what to do if you’re there when it’s super full or about to reach capacity.
How often does Disneyland reach capacity? Not often, but it always makes headlines when it does. The days between Christmas and New Years are more likely to reach capacity as well as major attraction or land openings and fourth of July.
How many people does it take to reach capacity? Simply put, we don’t know. Disney doesn’t release those numbers to the public, but the L.A. Times puts it at around 80,000 and we expect that limit to increase once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens in 2019.
When did Disneyland last reach capacity? 12/27/18 and again on 12/28/18. It also reached capacity on those same exact dates in 2017. Here’s the rundown of what happened and when:
- 12/27/18 Disneyland Park closed for new guests around 1:00 pm and Disneyland stopped selling 1 day tickets to Disneyland Park, but California Adventure 1 day tickets were still available.
- 12/28/18 Disneyland Park again closed for new guests, but this time allowed guests to buy 1 day tickets and enter California Adventure, then be issued a specific return time to enter Disneyland. This was new, I’ve never seen this happen and can’t imagine the park would lighten up very much to allow new people in. It was also reported that all FASTPASSES in both parks were “sold out” or distributed by 3:00 pm.
- 12/27/17 Disneyland Park closed for new guests at 1:00 pm due to large crowds and a massive power outage affecting many attractions. Guests who previously entered Disneyland Park may be permitted back in at that time. Disneyland Park opened again to all guests at 5:00 pm
- 12/28/17 Disneyland closed to capacity at 11:00 am and stop selling tickets. Guests who had previously entered Disneyland Park were permitted back in at that time. Disneyland Park opened again to all guests at 12:55 pm. So you can see that they do their best to keep park gates open, but that’s not to say it will be comfortable once you do get inside.
What To Do if Disneyland Reaches Capacity Planning Tips
There’s a few things you can do in advance to plan for capacity issues:
- Before you even get to Disneyland and you’re considering when to go, research our yearly planning guide to get an idea of what’s going on and when.
- Purchase tickets in advance just in case Disney stops selling tickets like they did on 12/28/18.
- Book dining reservations inside Disneyland Park 60 days in advance. Usually, you will be permitted inside with a dining reservation. See screenshot below.
- Utilize Disney MaxPass to get on multiple popular rides earlier in the day. Note that MaxPass/FASTPASS options can and will run out earlier in the day.
- Start your day early, arrive at the gates at least 60 minutes before the park opens (Mickey and Friends parking opens 90 minutes before the parks open)
- Start your day at Disneyland Park, that way if they only allow returning guests, you have at least walked through the gates that day once.
What To Do if Disneyland Reaches Capacity Inside the Parks
First, you should arrive early and make your favorite rides a priority during those morning hours. Only leave Disneyland Park if you don’t plan to return because there’s a good chance you could be turned away. Also, on capacity days, security lines are exceptionally long. Even if you can get back in, you may not want to.
Read up on things to do when it’s super crowded so you can do those once the crowds become too much. Above all, keep calm and if your nerves or patience gets the best of you, you might want to call it a day. Again, this doesn’t happen often but it’s best to prepare.
Need help planning your day at Disneyland Resort? Let me help! Plus, watch the replay of my Facebook live talking Disneyland capacity issues here.
Disneyland expert who also loves the beach, flip flops and pink nail polish.